Commuters forced to pay twice after Scotrail Smartcard malfunction

Scotrail Alliance Commercial Director, Cathy Craig, and then Transport Minister Derek Mackay launched the Smartcard in March. Picture: SNS
Scotrail Alliance Commercial Director, Cathy Craig, and then Transport Minister Derek Mackay launched the Smartcard in March. Picture: SNS
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COMMUTERS have hit out at Scotrail for being forced to pay out twice for journeys after a technology malfunction meant hundreds of pounds worth of season tickets were not being loaded up onto the company’s new Smartcard.

Travellers who had paid for weekly or monthly season tickets online found their new cards – akin to London’s Oyster card system – did not work at the station and they were forced to hand over up to £20 on the spot for new fares.

Passenger Ronnie Neilson discovered the glitch when he tried to validate his £240 monthly season ticket at Dunblane station and received a message saying it needed to be topped up. He said: “When I tried to load the card at Dunblane this morning and couldn’t, I went in to ask the station staff. They said, nothing to do with us, we can’t help you.”

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ScotRail admitted to The Scotsman it had identified “intermittent delays” in downloading season ticket purchases onto a Smartcard and said it was working to find a solution. It added that customers should be able to travel with the receipt for their season ticket, along with their Smartcard.

Some commuters have been allowed to board their train by showing ticket officers their receipt, but others said they had been told they had to buy a new ticket and could be refunded later.

Writing on ScotRail’s page on Facebook, Janey Llewellyn said: “I bought a weekly ticket on Sunday night and it still isn’t working – ‘official’ advice from helpline is to show station staff my confirmation e-mail and they ‘should’ let me through! Agree about total lack of information from ScotRail - station staff and conductors don’t even seem to know much about them.”

Fiona Murphy added: “My smartcard isn’t working and customer service advice is to buy tickets to travel and claim a refund. Is that it? Seriously? Pay twice and we’ll refund you when we feel like it.” She added: “Stop selling smartcard tickets if they’re not working! It’s not fair on your customers and certainly not fair on your customer-facing staff.”

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ScotRail has been rolling out its Smartcard scheme for season ticket holders over the past few months, with every station on the ScotRail network set to be connected by the end of the summer period.

The system will be expanded beyond season tickets to the majority of ticket types by 2017 and will be compatible with buses, ferries and the Glasgow subway.

A spokeswoman for ScotRail said that customers who have not yet made an online purchase should leave four to six hours before attempting to download their ticket to ensure it is transferred onto their card – or use a ticket machine to make the transaction.

She said: “We apologise to affected customers and will have extra staff on hand at main stations to assist over the next few days. Our technical team have isolated the problem and are already working round the clock to get this fixed. Our Smart customer assistance team are standing by to help customers who are experiencing issues.”

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